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November 25, 2022


Japan Cup (G1) - Comments from Japanese runners' connections

Boccherini (horse, 6)

Yuki Iwasaki, assistant trainer

“He had a good ground-saving trip in the Kyoto Daishoten and I think the jockey did an excellent job. After that he went to the farm for a bit and returned to the training center on Nov. 3, with this race as the goal. We had Suguru Hamanaka ride on Nov. 16. The horse may have been a bit slow in the final stages, but we’d had another horse working ahead of him and he really gave him a good run from the start. His overall time was good and considering the surface in the latter part of the morning, I think he showed improvement. He’s much more consistent in his races now and although he isn’t quite as flashy as he was before, I think he’s at his best. I think after winning the Meguro Kinen, the Tokyo 2,400 meters will be welcome.”



Danon Beluga (colt, 3)

Noriyuki Hori, trainer

“The Tenno Sho (Autumn) was decided in the very fast final three furlongs, so after that race, I kept him at the training center and kept an eye on him to be sure everything was well. At first, he was pretty quiet and seemed tired, but he’s eating up all his feed and he’s back physically to where he was before that last race. I started him back in training on Nov. 6 with a workout up the hill course. We decided not to go to the Hong Kong Cup and, after his Nov. 13 workout on the hill, we pointed him toward the Japan Cup. On Nov. 17, he had his first serious piece of work, on the flat woodchip course. He breezed behind two other horses, then upped it a gear, but only in the straight. The focus was on maintaining good balance. He concentrated relatively well and was able to get a good time without overdoing it. His breathing though was a bit labored. He weighed 497 kg after work. Everything has been going smoothly. We’re doing our best to give him the care he needs. He’s mentally very stable and he has excellent maneuverability, so the 2,400 meters shouldn’t be any problem. I have no worries.”

Feb. 13, 2022
Kyodo News Hai (Tokinominoru Kinen) (G3)

Danon Beluga

Daring Tact (mare, 5)

Haruki Sugiyama, trainer

“In the Sankei Sho All Comers two starts ago, the ground was good on the inside. In the next race, the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, the fast ground was on the outside. And, in both these races, the draw was not in her favor and the results reflected that. It was a shame for her sake. Still, in the QEII Cup, she raced over the bad ground and displayed some very good footwork in the final stage. But, she really wasn’t able to give it her all in places. She just raced a short while ago, but she looks to be fine. There doesn’t seem to be any problems with her hooves and legs. I’m keeping a close eye on her and if no problems develop, we will give it a go for the Japan Cup. In the Tokyo 2,400 meters, I don’t think the draw makes much of a difference. I’ll have her in best shape, so she’ll be able to race to the best of her ability.”

Daring Tact

Daring Tact

Heart’s Histoire (horse, 6)

Sakae Kunieda, trainer

“Last out in the Copa Republica Argentina he had an outside gate, but Yutaka Take did a really good job of moving him inside so he didn’t have to cover extra ground. Going into the stretch, he was still feeling strong and then there was an accident and this horse couldn’t recover from the traffic problems he encountered. Just before the finish line, it opened up on the inside and if things had gone more smoothly I think the result would have been different. There’s not much time between races so I gave him fast work up the hill on Sunday (Nov. 20) and that should be enough. Before, his hind legs would not have been fully recovered and we couldn’t have used him in races this close together, but now he’s much calmer and able to maintain his condition. The distance of the Tenno Sho (Spring) was too far for him so I think you can throw out his results in that. The jockey said so too, that the horse races more smoothly to the left and Tokyo would, without a doubt, be good. The competition is strong so we’ll just have to see how well he can do.”

Karate (horse, 6)

Yasuyuki Tsujino, trainer

“In the Tenno Sho (Autumn), only one horse took the lead and was way out in front and everybody else from second position back was slow. On top of that, this one was on the inside and unable to move. He couldn’t go all out in the end and before he could move, it was over. If there had been more pace, things would have been different. He was still fresh after that, so we didn’t have to worry about recovering him from the race, we were, in fact, looking for a way to push him harder. Last week on Wednesday, he worked over the flat course and we checked to see that he was moving relaxed. He was and his responses were good from when he picked up speed. He’d gone from the mile to the Niigata Kinen over 2,000 meters and was able to handle it just fine. I think his good racing sense is one of his strongpoints.”

Sep. 4, 2022
Niigata Kinen (G3)


Ridge Man (horse, 9)

Koki Chiba, trainer

“He’s been getting stronger each week since the end of August and he was in top shape for the ORO Cup but wasn’t able to get a clear run and the race was over before he was even able to give it what he had. It’s a very big stage this time but he’s been given the chance to race on the Tokyo turf again. The others are strong but I want him to aim high, even if that means getting ahead of just one more horse.”

Ridge Man

Ridge Man

Shadow Diva (mare, 6)

Makoto Saito, trainer

“In the Fuchu Himba Stakes, she had an outside draw and did have to race on the outside so she had to cover extra ground. She ran her own race and displayed her excellent late kick. I think the gate position did make a slight difference between her and the top finishers. She had a slight sprain after that race and we sent her to the farm where she could get that cared for. She returned to the training center on Nov. 5 and we continued to work on her right foreleg. We clocked her for the first time on Nov. 10 and, on Nov. 16, she worked up the hill at a time of the morning when the ground was pretty torn up. She clocked 54-some seconds. I think that was a bit slow but she’s moving enough and the stiffness at the beginning can be excused.”

Shadow Diva

Shadow Diva

Shahryar (colt, 4)

Nobuyuki Tashiro, assistant trainer

“He traveled in a good position in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) and his 33-some seconds over the final three furlongs showed how hard he ran. He really hung on to the very end. It was the first time in a long time for him that the fast time over the final stage decided the race. I don’t think he did a bad job. He stayed at the training center after that. He’d come out of the race very well so we were able to have him back in training right away. His fast work was last week on Nov. 17 on the grass track. His weight hasn’t changed much but, having raced, he’s sharpened him up. He’s leaner, with good muscle tone, and everything is going smoothly. He won the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) over the Tokyo 2,400 meters and I think having had good results over the distance is a big plus. And, since he has set records himself, of course, he is capable of handling fast times well. If the ground is a bit soft, he can handle it, but it’s not good if it’s raining like it was last year in the Kobe Shimbun Hai. This has been our biggest goal of his autumn campaign. He has improved considerably and my expectations are very high.”



T O Royal (colt, 4)

Masahiro Yokoi, assistant trainer

“I talked to the jockey and he said in the Copa Republica Argentina, the effect of the interference in the stretch was far worse than it seemed, and apparently, the horse next to him in the gate had been kicking and was frightened before the start. So, because of that, the initial dash from the gate didn’t go well. But, considering that he’d been carrying 57.5 kg and the difference between him and the winner wasn’t that much, it wasn’t such a bad performance. He did have some cuts afterwards but nothing serious. With two full weeks in between races, it looks like he’ll be able to hold his condition. Compared to the horses that have raced in many Grade 1s before, this horse is going to look lacking. But, I think he has what it takes to do well. He’s gotten better as he gets older and I know he’ll communicate well with the rider. The longer distance suits him and I hope he gives us a race that will stand him well in the future.”

T O Royal

T O Royal

Trust Kenshin (horse, 7)

Fumimasa Takahashi, trainer

“The October Stakes (Listed, Oct. 16) was his first race in a while and he was a bit sluggish and ended up traveling from the rear. In the stretch, just when he was revved up, the path closed up in front of him and he had to put the brakes on, so that was unfortunate. We had him nominated for the Fukushima Kinen two weeks ago, but now his coat is looking much better. His movement in fast work on Nov. 17 was good. At his age, 2,000 meters is a bit too busy for him. Here, the competition is stiff, but I think the Tokyo 2,400 meters suits him. And with a distance that’s more suited to him, the jockey should be able to ride him more assertively. Since he went into open-class competition, he hasn’t had a good run a number of times, so I’m hoping this time things will go smoothly and he’ll be able to give it all he has.”

Uberleben (filly, 4)

Takahisa Tezuka, trainer

“In the Tenno Sho (Autumn), the frontrunner Panthalassa was moving fast, but the pace behind her was slow. This horse had a wide draw and traveled on the outside with the slower group. She ran well in the final stage and ran her own race but wasn’t able to get closer to the front. She’s never been flashy in trackwork but her fast work on Nov. 16 looked good. This week she’ll have the same workout. She was lean for her last start and we’ve maintained that. I figure her weight on race day will be the same as it was last time, but, as anticipated, her condition has improved. The distance and the course will suit her. Last year she finished sixth in the Japan Cup, but then she was a 3-year-old and didn’t move as well as she does now. Her last start was two furlongs shorter and the extra distance this time is a plus. The track should be a bit torn up on the final day of the race meeting, which should work to her favor, and a bit of rain will certainly be a plus. If the surface suits her, she’ll be able to do well.”



Unicorn Lion (horse, 6)

Takahide Ando, assistant trainer

“The jockey had a lot of confidence in the Fukushima Kinen and he did a great job. I think putting the horse in blinkers was a good thing. It was almost like watching a replay of Panthalassa’s win of the race last year. Surprisingly, Unicorn Lion got his breath back immediately after the race, so he came out of the race without any damage. He was back in training from Thursday of the following week and things have all gone smoothly. The way he’s looking now, there should be no problem with only a full week in between races. Up to now, he has raced at many different venues, so the course won’t pose a problem. But, with it being over 2,400 meters, the up in distance will be key. The Kyoto Daishoten was tough for him in the final stage. If the pressure is turned up, I think things will be difficult. I’m keen to see just how easy the jockey can make things for him.”

Nov. 13, 2022
Fukushima Kinen (G3)

Unicorn Lion

Vela Azul (horse, 5)

Kunihiko Watanabe, trainer

“His turn of foot in the Kyoto Daishoten was even better than I’d thought it would be. When I’d first started racing him on turf, he hadn’t been that much in tune with the rider, but jockey Mirai Iwata did a good job of teaching him racing and he’s gotten good results since. And, from this year especially, he’s physically a lot stronger too. After winning his last start he went to the farm for a bit. He arrived there on Oct. 14 and returned to the training center on Nov. 4. He looks to be in the same physical shape now that he was before his last start. Kohei Matsuyama rode fast work on Nov. 17 and clocked 79.7 seconds over six furlongs on the woodchip flat course. The horse has a huge stride so his time was faster than it looked. All is going according to plan. The competition will be stronger but after what he showed us last time, I’m looking forward to the race. We haven’t seen everything he’s capable of on turf with a long homestretch. I think he has improved with the one race behind him after time off. Ideally, I’d like there to be a good pace and the ground a bit soft like it was in the Kyoto Daishoten.”

Nov. 6, 2022
Copa Republica Argentina (G2)

Vela Azul

Weltreisende (horse, 5)

Yuki Iwasaki, assistant trainer

“He was in good shape for the Sankei Sho All Comers, but he travelled on the outside and I think that trip tired him out. He went to the farm after that and returned to the training center on Oct. 29. His feet and legs were in good condition so we have been able to give him ample work. He worked behind another horse on Nov. 9 and his condition seems to have improved dramatically. Damian Lane rode fast work last week and had a good impression of him. He’s proven over poor going, but looking at his performance in the Naruo Kinen, it’s clear that a fast track is better. He has experienced the Tokyo 2,400 meters with his third-place finish in the Japanese Derby. I’m looking forward to seeing what he’ll show us.”

June 4, 2022
Naruo Kinen (G3)



Sources: Keiba Book, Gallop, Netkeiba, Radio Nikkei